For my Uncle Ron
Okay. So I obviously should have offered a bit more as we crossed the equator, with ‘Huey’ blowing wind from the south and not the west as we’d requested. Although we had a terrific run to Gan, we’ve been stuck here now for a week waiting for the weather to change. Remember the following stage of our trip is another 1100nm beyond Chagos and once we leave here we’ll have no access to fuel or facilities until June.
So to fill in the days we’ve taken short walks around the islands of the Addu Atoll using the inter-island causeways. Gan is the second largest island in the atoll and is connected by causeways to neighbouring islands of Feydu, Maradu and Hithadhoo.
During the day the streets are quiet as the locals sit inside their air conditioned homes, only to come out after the sun and heat goes down. Shops are closed between 12-2pm, and many close again between 5-7pm but may open later still for a couple of hours. Buildings are made from concrete blocks and the structures seem a little rickety. The brightly coloured homes stand out against the stark white sandy side streets, while the concrete homes make the place look a little drab.
In 1941 during the WWII the Royal Navy established a base in Addu Atoll, with airstrips built on the island of Gan; these have since been developed into the Gan International Airport. The barracks and remains of the old base are still visible, although Gan has a resort available for the few tourists that come this far south. In 1957 the naval base transferred to the RAF until the British withdraw forces in 1976.
Ronald Lloyd was a Merchant Navy Marine Engineer Officer, ‘scouser’ and in his later years a part-time crooner at the Loch Sport RSL. He spent his apprenticeship at Ellerman’s Engine Works in Sandhills from 1945 to 1950 and he may well have ventured to the Maldives during the years. With his wife Ann, and four young sons, he emigrated to Australia in 1964 to begin a new life.
At the age of 84, my Uncle Ron passed away on 23 April 2014. As Irving Berlin quoted, “The song may be over, but the melody lives on”.
RIP Uncle Ron.